The extremely warm and dry conditions have had a major impact on production areas such as Ceres, Berg River, the Northern Province and the Free State.
According to the organisation’s latest apple and pear export estimate, heat-wave conditions also affected fruit growth in areas that have enough water. Fruit size is expected to be smaller on early varieties and, if current weather conditions persist, later season varieties will also suffer.
Irrigation management practices to mitigate further risk have been implemented in drought-stricken regions as well as areas experiencing water shortages.
There is some good news for the sector. The overall expectations for the export crop remain positive with apple volumes expected to increase by 3%, mainly driven by young orchards coming into production.
Pear exports are expected to decrease slightly by 2% as a result of the fruit size of the Williams Bon Chretien pear variety and limited marketing options for smaller summer pears.